Machig Labdron (circa 1055-1152) was the yogini who instigated the Tibetan Chod lineage of practice, and her guru was the Indian yogin, Phadampa Sangye. The Chod or 'cutting practice' is based upon the perfection of wisdom (Skt. Prajnaparamita) tradition, whereby strong attachments are overcome through the visualisation practice of chopping one's own body into pieces and presenting it as a feast offering to the tormented spirits and hungry ghosts. Machig Labdron dances upon a moon disc and lotus, with her left leg extended and her right leg drawn up. She is naked and white in colour, and her black hair hangs freely down her back. She wears the eight golden ornaments of a tiara, earrings, three necklaces, bracelets, armlets and anklets. Her right hand is held aloft whilst she plays upon her hand-drum or damaru, which is fashioned from two human skulls. Her left hand rests upon her hip as she holds an upturned silver bell. Her beautiful and slender body radiates an aura of rainbow light, and an offering of jewels and chakravartin emblems appears in the foreground.
© text by Robert Beer